Jan 07, 2020 3:04 PM

County looks to improve infrastructure in wake of 2019 floods

Posted Jan 07, 2020 3:04 PM
Levee break in southern Buchanan County which led to the flooding of U.S. Highway 59/Photo courtesy of Kansas Highway Patrol
Levee break in southern Buchanan County which led to the flooding of U.S. Highway 59/Photo courtesy of Kansas Highway Patrol

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

Buchanan County hopes to convince state and federal officials to make infrastructure improvements in wake of the floods of 2019.

Presiding Commissioner Lee Sawyer says county officials do worry about renewed flooding next spring. He says U.S. Highway 59 in southern Buchanan County spent too much time under water, cutting off a route over the Missouri River to Atchison, Kansas.

Sawyer notes Iowa is raising Highway 2, from I-29 to Nebraska City, in an effort to keep it from flooding should the Missouri overflow its banks and says Highway 59 would benefit from being elevated above the flood plain.

“But, I realize it takes a lot of money to do those kinds of things, but I do think that hopefully that’s getting some strong consideration, because 59, as everybody knows, was closed an awful lot this spring and you would sure like to get in a situation where that does not have to happen,” sawyer tells host Barry Birr on the KFEQ Hotline.

Sawyer says work to upgrade the Missouri River levee which protects Rosecrans Airport, including the 139th Airlift Wing, as well as St. Joseph’s southern industrial base is proceeding, but likely still two years away from completion.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has accepted a local bid from eight submitted for the next phase in the project. Sawyer says the federal government has pledged $71 million with the voter-approved quarter-cent sales tax generating $11 million dollars.

“All the funding will be in place, so it’s just a matter of the time that it takes to finish the construction on those projects, but it is super important,” Sawyer says. “We’re thankful that everybody has kicked in; like I said from the federal government, the state government, local city and county. That’s how a project should work and it’s obviously very important to us.”